Indian Railways makes history, runs train through Asia’s second longest tunnel

Pir Panjal tunnel

Finally, history was made on Friday as the trial run of the country’s longest railway tunnel, Pir Panjal tunnel, was conducted smoothly. The train covered the 11 km distance in 20 minutes. It took 30 minutes to cover the entire distance of 17.5 km from Qazigund to Banihal.

The trial had to be postponed on Thursday following protest by locals on railway tracks. They were demanding a railway station in the village.

The tunnel (11.215 km), which connects Bichleri Valley of Banihal with Qazigund area of Kashmir Valley, is the India’s first longest transport tunnel and Asia’s second longest tunnel. 6.5 km long Karbude tunnel of the Konkan railway was India’s longest tunnel so far. While the longest tunnel in Asia is Wushaoling tunnel (20 km) in Gansu, China.

“The Pir Panjal railway tunnel is a vital link connecting Udhampur to Baramulla. Train passengers in the Kashmir Valley can soon travel up to Banihal with the completion of the Qazigund-Banihal section which also comprises Pir Panjal railway tunnel,” said Sharanappa Yalal, project manager of Pir Panjal Tunnel project of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) Ltd.

Opening of the tunnel will ease the transportation problem during winters when inclement weather forces closure of the Jawahar Tunnel and Srinagar-Jammu highway.

The tunnel will reduce distance between Banihal and Qazigund, which is also one of the most treacherous stretches in the entire Kashmir rail network project, from 35 km by road to 17.5 km on train.

“The tunnel is part of the ambitious Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project of the Northern Railways, whose route alignment presents one of the greatest challenges ever to be accomplished in Indian Civil Engineering history,” Yalal said.


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